The Burning House Group
Review: "Knock Knock"
'Knock, Knock' knocks 'em dead
Peter Vaughan, Staff Writer. Star
Tribune . Minneapolis, Minn.:
Aug 23, 1997 . pg. 10.E
It's not often you attend a performance by one of the many
ambitious theaters that distinguish the Twin Cities and come
away as impressed by the
technical aspects of the production as by the acting and direction.
But that's the case with the Burning House Group's scintillating
staging of "Knock,
Knock," Jules Feiffer's free-wheeling 1975 comedy about
two geezers trying to scope
out the meaning of life.
"Knock, Knock" is a one-locale
comedy that draws its laughs not only from Feiffer's
drolleries and absurdities, but also from some knockabout farcical
bits that depend on
deft timing and technical expertise. The Burning House production,
directed by Ally
Baker, answers the challenges on all fronts.
known as a waspish cartoonist for the Village Voice, begins
his tale in the
cluttered Formica kitchen and living room of Abe and Cohn,
a couple of retirees from life
who have been living together for 20 years. They seldom go
out and spend their time
reworking arguments and discussions that have the metaphysical
ring of Beckett,
underscored with a bit of Groucho Marx.
Cohn is the realist
and cynic who demands physical proof of anything he is asked
believe, whether it be the number of fingers on his friend's
hand or the existence of the
sky. Abe is a dreamer who believes in the possibility of possibility.
Yet, both fear what
lies beyond their door.
One day things get to Cohn and, in
the midst of a metaphysical discourse which he is in
danger of losing, he wishes Abe gone. Poof, he's gone and soon
replaced by Joan of
Arc, a cute dreamer wearing armor and heeding the voices that
impel her on journeys of
There is a murder; a couple of near-deaths; a lot of
crashing and smashing about the
kitchen; a convenient chest in which to hide and stash; and
rocks flying in all directions.
It's all deftly orchestrated by Baker and punctuated by Tim
The acting is every bit as good as the choreography
and technical work. Matt Guidry as
Cohn and Randal Berger as Abe play off each other like oil
and water. Guidry's Cohn is
all business, crafty yet ultimately vulnerable when he begins
to respond to the love and
faith Joan brings to their world.
Abe is far droller: crafty, protective and, in the end, a fearful
refugee who would
rather talk about life's possibilities than pursue them.
Hunter Batz is a delightful and appealing Joan, innocent and
optimism until she unexpectedly finds herself banished to the
drudgery of her hosts.
Batz mines the slapstick possibilities of the story, tumbling
and crashing around the
stage. Eric Knutson adds solid support in a variety of off-beat